Hello Impact fans and curious rubberneckers! I’m Elle Collins, and this is the Knockout Report. I’ll fill you in on everything that happens in Impact Wrestling, but I’m always going to lead with the Knockouts Division, because they deserve it. You can follow me on Twitter here, With Spandex here, and Uproxx here. You can watch Impact Wrestling on the Pursuit Channel or Twitch every Friday night at 10 p.m. Then on Mondays, read this column and share it with everyone you know.
Last week was the Homecoming PPV, where Taya Valkyrie won the Knockouts Championship from Tessa Blanchard with a little help from referee Gail Kim, Rich Swann became the new X-Division Champion, and Rosemary returned from the dead to confront Su Yung and Allie. Now without further ado, here’s the Knockout Report for January 11, 2019.
That’s A No From Me
I used to think there was some sort of irony to the Scarlett Bordeaux character. Some attempt to parody Attitude Era gender tropes, or play up the ridiculousness of how women used to be treated in wrestling. After all, this is the same show that features Tessa Blanchard, Kiera Hogan, Taya Valkyrie, Jordynne Grace, and no less than three face-painted monster women. The Homecoming PPV featured two straight married couples celebrating in the ring like equals: one because they’re the two top champions, and the other because they’ve both realized they love beating people with kendo sticks. This is clearly a company that’s moved on from old-school wrestling sexism, so including a character who smacks of that must be a deliberate joke. That’s what I thought.
I’ve given up on waiting for a punchline. It’s clear that there’s none coming. Scarlett Bordeaux on Impact isn’t a parody of an Attitude Era character, she’s just an Attitude Era character transported unchanged into 2019. I don’t know how much of that is Impact and how much is Scarlett, but either way I’m not a fan of anything that’s going on here.
When she was just appearing in a puff of smoke, teasing guys, and disappearing, I was ready to find an interpretation that worked for me. “She must be the devil,” was my go-to take, but let’s be real, there’s another women’s storyline on Impact that’s got all the devil and hell business pretty tied up. And while the Devil might use lust to control and embarrass men, there’s no reason the Devil would come out for a “Strip Show” to celebrate Impact moving to the Pursuit Channel. The Devil wouldn’t — you know, actually maybe the devil would give Scott Steiner a lap dance, but Scott would probably enjoy it a lot less than the one he got from Scarlett Bordeaux.
This segment was embarrassing. Maybe it wasn’t embarrassing to Scarlett, who seems pretty comfortable playing this role, but it was embarrassing for Impact Wrestling. It was certainly embarrassing for Don Callis, who made Lawler-esque noises on commentary during the segment, and who also bears some responsibility for it in his other role as a Vice President of Impact. It’s embarrassing to Tessa and Taya and the other women who signed with Impact because Impact has, generally speaking, become a surprisingly progressive home for women’s wrestling in the last few years. And frankly, it’s embarrassing to me, as a leading voice in the “Impact is good now and you should watch it” movement. This was the first weekly Impact episode to stream live on Twitch, and I hate to think that people tuned in because they heard how much Impact has improved, only to be treated to Scott Steiner getting a lap dance from a buxom blonde in her underwear.
Tessa Blanchard Defeated Cali Collins
At least there was actual women’s wrestling on this episode as well, even if it was just Tessa squashing a jobber. The match served a clear purpose though. In addition to giving Tessa a strong-looking win in the wake of her title loss, she got to send a message to Gail Kim, who cost her that title. She didn’t just take out Cali Collins with Gail’s finisher Eat Defeat, she then looked directly into the camera and clearly mouthed “I want Gail.” Outside of broken necks and brain damage, no wrestling retirement is ever permanent, so it’s only a matter of time until we see Gail enter the ring against Tessa. And honestly, from a behind-the-scenes perspective, I totally get it. If I was a wrestler who retired from the ring to become a producer, and then Tessa Blanchard showed up in my company, I’d want a chance to wrestle her too. Tessa’s such an exciting performer right now — how could Gail resist?
Su and Allie Are Shook
Su Yung and Allie, in their underground layer/coffin storage facility, are still reacting to Rosemary’s reappearance. Allie insists that Rosemary’s Bunny is gone, because she sold it to “him.” In other words, we’re now defining the Bunny (Allie’s old nickname) as Allie’s lost soul. With Rosemary in the picture, that’s a rhetorical choice that makes a lot of sense. A mystical message appears on a coffin, giving Allie one more chance to rejoin the Shadow (which for the record means becoming good again; language gets confusing when your babyface is also a demon). We don’t yet know if Rosemary’s currently in possession of Allie’s soul, or if it’s still in the Undead Realm, but it looks like Rosemary’s going to have to go to the trouble of returning it to Allie herself before there’s any hope of the Bunny reverting to the character we once knew.
Next week Allie’s scheduled to fight Jordynne Grace, but I’ll be very surprised if there aren’t shenanigans from both Su and Rosemary by the end of that match (if indeed it even reaches an ending). That should give us a solid clue of where things are headed from here. I’m still really enjoying this storyline, which is all the more exciting with Rosemary back. I just hope next week I don’t have to sit through any strip shows to get to it.
Meanwhile, In Guyville
Johnny’s Not Happy, Nobody’s Happy
Johnny Impact retained the World Championship at Homecoming, but he’s angry because Killer Kross attacked him after the show and powerbombed his wife off the stage. Brian Cage is angry because he would have won that belt at Homecoming if the referee wasn’t distracted by Johnny’s rowdy Survivor friends while Cage pinned Johnny for a ten-count. Taya Valkyrie’s not on this episode, but she’s got to be angry that she’s not here to celebrate winning the Knockouts Championship, because she got powerbombed off the stage.
But Killer Kross? That guy’s not angry. He’s grinning. He’s wrestling’s ultimate troll, and he can’t stop laughing at how upset everyone is. He even threatens to attack Taya again when she comes back, just to get Johnny to attack him. It’s not a great day to be Johnny Impact, but it’s a pretty good day to be Killer Kross.
Rich Swann’s Not Even From Ohio
I looked into this. Rich is from Baltimore, and he seems to have mostly made his name as an indie wrestler in and around Philly. Nevertheless, he and Sami Callihan apparently go way back, and Sami thinks Rich should join oVe. Is Rich actually going to turn heel, or is this just setting up a match with Sami for the X-Division Championship? Or is it like Roddy Strong in NXT, where he’s like “No, I’ll never ever join your heel faction!” and then later when they don’t know what else to do with him he’ll totally join that heel faction? It’s probably not that. Like Emma Goldman, Rich Swann doesn’t seem like he’d join any movement that’s not big on dancing.
Willie Mack Defeated Sami Callihan
I think I actually enjoyed this rematch a bit more than their contest at Homecoming. Not only did Mack get his win back, he really showed how hard he can go. I’m excited to see where this storyline with him and Rich and oVe goes in the near future, but I’m also really excited to see where Willie Mack goes from there. Can a thick gentleman such as Willie rise to the top of the card and compete with the likes of Brian Cage and Moose on the basis of pure charisma and a very good Stunner? I’m not actually sure, but I’d like to think so.
Eli Drake Versus Eddie Edwards Feels Inevitable
Recently, Eli Drake has been taking a stand against hardcore wrestling by participating in hardcore matches. Meanwhile, Eddie Edwards has been getting really really into hardcore wrestling, so much so that it almost ruined his marriage before his wife finally realized she loves violence too. So when Eli interrupted Eddie’s promo backstage, it all came together. Of course these guys are going to feud next. They’ve become each other’s perfect enemies.
Killer Kross Defeated Johnny Impact In A No-DQ Non-Title Match
As soon as this was announced as a non-title match, it was obvious Killer Kross was going to win, but I didn’t expect Moose to get involved. I don’t really get Moose and Kross as buddies, but I guess with Eddie moving on to Eli, Moose needs something to do. Nothing against Moose, but I enjoy Kross more on his own. His character comes across as such a nihilist that it just seems weird for him to have a loyal buddy of any kind.
On the other hand, with Cage still being in the title picture, bringing Moose back in means there’s two heels as well as two faces involved, which ought to let them trade off in lots of combinations on the way to the next big title match. I’m also curious whether Johnny and Cage can make it through this story without anybody turning heel. I can easily imagine a Cage/Kross/Impact Triple Threat for the title at the next PPV that ends with either face siding with Kross to mercilessly beat the other guy. I feel like Johnny Impact is the best candidate for that, but it could go either way.
That’s all for this week’s Knockout Report. Join me next week, when Allie goes one-on-one against Jordynne Grace, and Scarlett Bordeaux supposedly reveals the winner of her talent search.